AVONDALE, Ariz — Carson Hocevar’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title hopes vanished late in Friday’s race after a feud with fellow championship competitor Corey Heim.
With 30 laps remaining in the scheduled distance of the Craftsman 150, Hocevar had gotten to Heim’s bumper for sixth after a bad pit stop put the No. 11 TRICON Garage entry behind the eight-ball. Hocevar seemingly overdrove the corner, taking out Heim and also collecting innocent bystander Stewart Friesen.
“I just tried to do what I did in [Turns] 3 and 4 and stay at his back bumper and do everything I could to just stay there,” Hocevar told reporters at Phoenix Raceway. “My only goal was to slow him down so he didn’t get too many cars ahead of us. I was just trying to hold him up and I didn’t expect him to be low. I thought he was kind of going to miss the corner the way that he entered — I thought we were both going to slide job the corner. I just messed up. I was just trying to roll the corner. I was committed to half a slider-ish, thinking he was going to slide, and he never slid. Just dumb.
“I didn’t want to do that at all. With my track record, it’s just going to kill me … I just fucked up,”
An in-truck camera cut to the Niece Motorsports driver displaying frustration toward himself. Crew chief Phil Gould radioed to Hocevar and told him to refocus and forget about what had happened.
Meanwhile, Heim brought his truck down pit road for repairs. His team patched together his battered truck and hoped for the best.
Hocevar’s race spiraled downhill on the ensuing restart. He got a bad jump and plummeted from 2nd to outside the top 15. It set up a battle between veterans Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes for the title.
But with four laps to go, Heim found Hocevar and seemingly got revenge. In Turn 2, Heim slid up the track into Hocevar, taking Hocevar out of the race. Heim maintained innocence, saying “I about wrecked five times before that, so just an unfortunate circumstance.” Regardless of his intention, Hocevar said that he deserved to get crashed.
“I didn’t even want to run the last rest of the laps,” he said. “I just wanted to crawl into a hole. I just feel bad. I was trying too hard. I’m trying to be better. I’m trying to just stay with them, and I was not going to. I just needed to give up and I didn’t know how to give up in that moment. I didn’t want to wreck him, I didn’t want to hit him that hard, I didn’t want to spin him, I didn’t want to do anything. I was just trying to hold him up a little bit and hope for a yellow.”
Hocevar finished 29th, the last among the Championship 4 drivers. Ben Rhodes finished fifth for his second title in three seasons.
Hocevar will now make the jump to the NASCAR Cup Series next season, driving the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports. He ends his full-time Truck Series career with four victories, all of which came this season.